For the first time since this past Friday, the Atlanta Braves are going to play a nine-inning baseball game. It’ll be their fifth game in three days as they attempt to guarantee themselves a split of this four-game series with the division-leading New York Mets.
It’s been a week of peaks and valleys for this Braves pitching staff. They started off last week by allowing 10 runs in each of their two games against the Red Sox, then followed that up by giving up one run combined in their next two games against the Cardinals. After Saturday got rained out, they surrendered nine to St. Louis in the first game of the doubleheader before throwing a shutout in the series finale. That brought us to yesterday, when they followed up a 4-2 defeat with their third shutout in six games.
So you’d assume that this means that there’s an air of unpredictability surrounding the Braves right now, right? Well, not really. It really depends on how well the starting pitcher does. If Charlie Morton either gives us a repeat performance or something close to or approaching how he fared last week against the Cardinals, then there’s a decent chance that we’ll see Brian Snitker bring out the better arms in the bullpen in order to preserve the lead.
However, if Morton goes out there and lays an egg and/or the Mets get out to an early lead, we’ll probably start seeing the usual suspects who have struggled in relief for the Braves this season and it’ll likely be another example of Groundhog Day playing out here in 2021 for Atlanta. So in essence, it’s incredibly imperative that Morton goes out there and at least does his part to keep the Braves in the game. He did it earlier this season against the Mets, back on May 19. He went six innings and only gave up one run and the Braves were winning when he left. It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing going forward, but the Braves did eventually pull out the win.
For this silly little theory of mine to work, that’s assuming that the Braves can hit Marcus Stroman hard. Judging by his recent performances, that’s definitely a task for Atlanta that will be easier said than done. He’s gone at least six innings in his past eight starts and other than an absolute clunker against the Rays back on May 16, he’s been consistently solid for the Mets whenever he’s taken the mound lately. Over that stretch of eight starts, his LOB percentage is at 85.5 percent — he’s given up plenty of hits, but he’s done very well to strand the runners that he has put on base. It really is as basic as “The Braves have to finish off any rallies” because otherwise, Stroman will likely find a way to get out of the inning without surrendering much damage.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that these games in June are must-win games for the Braves. I don’t think we’ve reached that point just yet, but at the same time, any wins against the Mets would be huge. If the Braves are going to have any hope of turning this thing around, these games are going to be very important. Atlanta did well to pick up a split of yesterday’s doubleheader, and now they’ve got a chance to really send a statement to New York that the Braves will wake up at some point here.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, June 21, 7:10 p.m. ET
Location: Citi Field, Flushing, New York
TV: Bally Sports South
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network